Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A New Destination: Gaithersburg

Tonight I'm dogsitting for a friend who lives in Gaithersburg off of Quince Orchard Road near the Kentlands.  This is the fourth time I've stayed with Sapphire and Tango, but the first time I've needed to get here without a car. 

Her house in Gaithersburg has always seemed so far away to me, despite the fact that it takes about the same or less time to get here than home to Silver Spring when driving.  Maybe it's because instead of heading east-west I'm heading north, in the opposite direction of DC, my starting point for judging whether things are "far away" or not.  It also reminds me a lot of Harrisburg, where I grew up: major four or six lane roads dissecting wide open space, seemingly needing a car to get from any Point A to any Point B. 

After taking RideOn Route 5 this morning from Silver Spring to White Flint and then riding my bike the rest of the way to Rockville, I had riding my bike as an option to make the trek up here after work.  But after glancing at the RideOn Route 56 schedule, I noticed that there were stops both right in front of my office and at the entrance to my friend's neighborhood, so I decided to go with that.  (I always wondered which stop it was that had people standing right in front of the entrance to my parking garage: turns out it's Routes 56 and 47.)

I got on the bus at 5:11, and rocked some Blueprint 3 in the earbuds up Shady Grove Road and then onto Darnestown Road.  I finally got off at the stop at the intersection of the too-similarly-named Quince Orchard Road and Orchard Ridge Road shortly before 6.  It was about a 15 minute walk to my friend's house from there.  While I was walking I was struck by something that I'm not normally conscious of:  at a little over an hour, this trip took a really long time. 

Normally, in getting from either Silver Spring or Van Ness to Rockville, I incorporate a 2-4 mile run or bike ride into the commute.  Between the biking or running and the RideOn bus, it takes about 80 minutes to make the trip, but it doesn't seem that long because I'm not only commuting but exercising as well.  But this trip, simply a RideOn bus, took about 50 minutes plus a 15 minute walk from the closest bus stop to my friend's house.  What I've figured out over the last three weeks is that I'm willing to accept a longer commute, as long as it means I've gotten some cardio in as well.  Not only that, but that a longer commute doesn't even feel "that long" if I've gotten some cardio in.  But anytime a bus ride alone pushes an hour, like this Route 56 or the Q2 Metro bus from Silver Spring to Rockville, that's where I have to draw the line between tolerable and intolerable.


  1. Interesting observation. The majority of commuters from New Jersey spend at least 45 minutes on the train. This is on top of their trips to the train stations I'm their towns and the subway ride to their office from Penn Station.

  2. I am fortunate that a "long ride" on the bus for me is one hour. DC Metro Area does have its upsides over NYC Metro Area, I suppose.

  3. Well, I'm all caught up and excited for the next entry. It never really dawned on me how prohibitively expensive the metro is in DC, and how much of an inconvenience that must be to the people who live there. Baltimore's subway and light rail lines are poorly designed, poorly run, and far from comprehensive, but at least they are included in MTA's very cheap daily, weekly, and monthly passes (64 bucks gives me 30 days of rides on everything but the commuter service). I also really enjoyed reading about being car free in other towns, especially New Orleans.